Khamenei Blames Protests on West

On June 4, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Western and “reactionary forces” were trying to infiltrate the country. Iran’s enemies were harnessing popular protests—through social media, psychological warfare and hired “mercenaries”—to undermine the Islamic Republic, he said in a televised speech marking the 33rd anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. They sought “to pit the people against the Islamic government,” Khamenei said.

Supreme Leader Khamenei

In the first half of 2022, Iranians protested over food prices, government corruption, teacher salaries, inadequate pensions, and other grievances. The Supreme Leader also told Iranians not to believe that the country had reached “a dead end.”

Related Material: Iran’s Protests Over Food Prices

In his speech, Khamenei praised the late leader for encouraging Iranians to “resist” Western governments and cultural influence. Reactionaries follow “the Western lifestyle and politics,” he said. “A reactionary person might wear a t-shirt or jeans or a bow tie and French perfume.”

Khamenei lauded Iran’s armed forces for confronting “psychological warfare” by Western powers. In May, the Revolutionary Guards seized two Greek Tankers in response to the U.S. confiscation of Iranian oil from a tanker impounded by Greece in April. “The enemy accused Iran of theft via his comprehensive propaganda and media empire,” Khamenei said. “Who is a thief? You stole our oil, and we took it back from you!” Khamenei’s positions are imbued with Shiite theology and fundamentalist dogma. His worldview reflects the anti-Western narrative of the 1979 revolution.

Khamenei also acknowledged the failure of public officials after the collapse of a 10-story building, which killed 41 people in southwest Abadan in May. The tragedy triggered weeklong protests and scrutiny of public officials. “Of course, the agents behind the damage inflicted must be punished, both in the Abadan incident and every other incident,” the supreme leader said. But he also called on Iranians to thank officials for their service and warned that Iran’s enemies sought to damage the reputation of revolutionary officials. The following are excerpted remarks from his address.


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 

On the West:

“In the days leading to the victory of the Revolution, the Americans sent their General [Robert Huyser] to Tehran in order to launch a coup. Of course, he thankfully returned frustrated and disappointed. On many other matters too, the Americans and the enemies were rendered frustrated and disappointed. Imam’s endeavor to bring about a serious separation from Westerners would have naturally created some enemies because he would not allow them to interfere. He took the current Palestinian Embassy, which was in the hands of the usurping Zionist regime at that time, away from the Zionists and handed it over to the Palestinians, who are the owners of Palestine. Well, this naturally brings about enmity. This is the course of nature.

“Our youth must pay attention to this: Westerners looted the world for three centuries! For three centuries, they looted the world. Westerners looted the whole world ranging from eastern Asia – Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal and the Indian Subcontinent – to Central Asia, West Asia, North Africa, West Africa and the entire sub-Saharan region of the continent.”

“They engaged in murder, plunder, massacre, torture, pressure and slavery. Westerners did these things. During those three centuries, while Westerns were busy committing these crimes, their intellectuals and thinkers would discover and impose ‘human rights’ for the world. This contradiction in action and in words and this hypocrisy is clear. Their actions and words were different. European countries, followed by the U.S., committed all sorts of crimes throughout the world in the literal sense of the word. Well, these are the ‘masterpieces’ of the Western civilization. These are the works of art created by Westerners!

“Imam [Khomeini] knew these things well. One of the main issues on which Imam would insist was to create a distance and border between the Islamic thinking, lifestyle and government from Western governments. This was one of the major concerns of Imam [Khomeini].

“One of the greatest advantages of Imam was that he familiarized the nation with the concept of resistance. It occurs many times that nations are after something, but do not have the power to resist. When there is pressure, they retreat. Imam built the nation like this, he injected resistance and steadfastness in them. That is why today, the Iranian nation is a completely resistant and solid nation.

“I would like to raise an important point about the enemies’ greed, plans, plots and foolish schemes against the Iranian nation. This point is made up of two parts. One is that today, the most important means of the enemies to inflict harm on the country is to pin their hopes on popular protests. They hope that with psychological work, Internet and cyberspace activities, with their various forms, money and employment of mercenaries, they will be able to pit the people against the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic. This is the first part of the matter.

“The second part of the matter is that this calculation of the enemy is wrong just like many other calculations made by him. In the beginning of the revolution, they promised that the Islamic Republic would not live more than six months and that it would fall. When those six months passed, they renewed it, saying that it would happen six months later. More than eighty of these six-month periods have passed now! On that day, the Islamic Republic used to be a thin sapling, but it has become a sturdy and deep-rooted tree and it has become stronger on a daily basis. Their calculations were wrong back then and they are wrong now too. This calculation is just like the previous ones.

“An example is their calculation during the Sacred Defense Era [the 1980-1988 war with Iraq]. They helped Saddam [Hussein] thinking that he would destroy the Islamic Republic in the course of a few days. They helped the plotters of coups hoping that they would do something. All these were calculations made by the Americans and westerners and all were wrong. Today too, the calculation to pit the people against the Islamic Republic is wrong. They think that they can put an element in the way of the Islamic Republic, one that they know the Islamic Republic cares about very much: the people, but this is wrong.

“Why do the Americans make this mistake? Because they have counsellors who are treasonous Iranians. They give them counsel. These treasonous counsellors betray both their country and them as well. Why? Because they give them counsel without having correct information. And those poor creatures act according to their advice, and they fail.

“One of their counsels is this: ‘You can count on the Iranian people for confronting the Islamic government and the Islamic Republic. The Iranian people have become tired of religion, the Islamic government and the clergy. You can count on them and they will stand up to the Islamic government.’ These ill-advised traitors – for both sides – counsellors say this to their American masters. They give them money and receive such analyses from them. They repeat this in their speeches, in their Senate and in other places. Inside the country too, some naïve individuals – of course, they are fortunately small in number – believe in them.

“Sometimes, I hear them say online and newspapers that the people have lost their belief in the clergy and religion. We hear such viewpoints inside the country too. Well, this is one of their a hundred-percent wrong calculations. Today, the people are surely interested in the revolution and religion more than they were in the first day of the revolution. If someone wants to understand the people’s orientation towards the revolution, revolutionary activities and jihad, they must look at the burial ceremony of Shahid [Martyr] Qassem Soleimani with millions of participants in it. The dismembered body of Shahid Soleimani was bid farewell by millions of people. The people commemorated and respected a revolutionary and mujahid person, who had laid down his life for the Islamic Republic, like that.”

“At the end of my statements, I want to offer some recommendations to activists in revolutionary, social, political and economic areas: either young activists or others. I want to offer a number of recommendations:

“One is that you should not let anti-revolutionary forces and the enemy eliminate the identity of your revolution. You should not let the enemy show the truth of the Revolution upside-down. This is one recommendation which is important. Intelligent and wise youth should think on this.”

“The next recommendation is that you should not let reactionary forces infiltrate and settle in the country. What does reactionary mean? When we say reactionary, some people begin to think of an araqchin [an Islamic skull cap]. No, a reactionary person is a person who follows the Western lifestyle and politics. This is a reactionary person. This used to be the case in our country. At the time of the corrupt and dependent Pahlavi rule, the Western lifestyle was prevalent in the country, but the Revolution came and rejected it. Anyone who returns to that lifestyle is a reactionary person. A reactionary person might wear a T-Shirt or jeans or a bow tie and French perfume, but they are reactionary. Anyone who moves towards the Western lifestyle and culture is reactionary. You should not let your country move towards a reactionary attitude. You should not let reactionary attitude find its place in the body of the country.

“The next recommendation is that you should reveal the enemy’s lies, deceptions and psychological warfare. At the time of Imam, there was no Internet, nor did satellites exist in this form. In those days, Imam [Khomeini] used to say that the enemy fought against us with his pen. Imam [Khomeini] was aware of this. Today, the issue is not about pens, rather it is about cyberspace, satellites and psychological warfare, one that is comprehensive and rampant everywhere. You should not let the enemy’s psychological warfare impact the country.

“Let me cite a small example of psychological warfare. They stole our oil on Greek shores. Then, our self-sacrificing and valiant soldiers made up for it and confiscated the enemy’s ship carrying oil. Then, the enemy accused Iran of theft via his comprehensive propaganda and media empire. Who is a thief? You stole our oil and we took it back from you! Taking back stolen property is not theft! It is you who are thieves! The Americans order the Greek government, and they obey by stealing our oil. Well, these are instances of psychological warfare. You should confront such psychological warfare – examples of which occur every day.”

“The next recommendation is that you should not let some people pretend that the country has reached a dead end. This is some people’s job right now in cyberspace. Now, some individuals do it out of negligence or they are paid to do it. I do not know, but they want to pretend that the country has reached a dead end. No, the country will not reach a dead end. This happened at the time of Imam too. At that time, some people wrote in newspapers that the country had reached a dead end. Imam said, “No, it is you who have reached a dead end. The Islamic Republic will not reach a dead end.” He said that it was they who had reached a dead end. This is the truth of the matter. You should not let them disappoint the people.”

On public officials and the building collapse in Abadan:

“We must express our appreciation of officials. When we see that in the Abadan incident, a minister goes there for three, four days and inspects the matter from close up is very important. That the honorable President or Vice President goes and meets with the casualties and comforts them and consoles their hearts is very valuable. They must be thanked. Of course, the agents behind the damage inflicted must be punished, both in the Abadan incident and every other incident. Those who inflict damage must surely be punished.”